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Aretha plans stage return in May

Aretha Franklin is shown Feb. 11. She says she's '150 per cent' after recent surgery. (Paul Sancya/Associated Press)

Aretha Franklin plans to return to the stage in May, after having taken a break to recover from her undisclosed illness.

Franklin, 68, says she's back at "150 per cent," but is also working towards losing weight and slimming down to a size 16.

"I want to not only maintain the weight I am at now, but better it by one dress size," the Queen of Soul said Wednesday in a phone interview from her home in Detroit.

Franklin says her first concert since the surgery will take place May 28 at the Seneca Niagara Casino in Buffalo, N.Y.

May will also see her release a new album entitled Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love, which will be sold exclusively through Wal-Mart.

"It's definitely going to take the boomers back ... but it's also contemporary with respect to other writers and production," she said.

Diet and exercise

Since her surgery, Franklin said she's been working out, walking a track three times a week as well as watching her diet.

However, she also admitted that she'll likely find it difficult to maintain her Whole Foods-type diet after she resumes performing.

"When you come off [a high-energy concert], a carrot or some celery just isn't going to work," she said.

"I've gotta do a fresh fruit thing ... and come up with some tasty and satisfying recipes that are going to work for me after concerts."

On Sunday, Franklin made a brief appearance by video link at the Grammy Awards to thank those who sent flowers and get-well wishes when she was hospitalized in December.

With files from The Associated Press  

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